NEWS | April 18, 2018

Team Charleston Youth Programs receive expedited accreditation

By Airman 1st Class Allison Payne Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Joint Base Charleston’s Youth Programs were re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation March 22, 2018. Accreditation is the process in which certification of competency, authority and credibility is presented to those qualifying. Accreditation signifies an organization or program is effectively managing its resources and is providing the best possible services to all stakeholders.

Air Force Youth Programs offer a variety of activities consisting of educationally enhanced programs, classes and events, providing a safe and fun environment supervised by caring and well-trained staff. Programs are available throughout the year at installations around the world. However, without the accreditation, Air Force Instruction 34-144 explains the potential result is program closure.

“The Youth Program offers a place for families to meet and build a community with one another,” said Lt. Col. William Parker, 628th Force Support Squadron commander. “It provides a safe place for kids of all ages and demographics to unwind and have fun. It would be difficult for these kids to connect without the program, which could ultimately impact mission readiness. It may sound farfetched but I believe the programs are a sort of ‘glue’ holding the base together, much like the FSS. The Youth Program is a vital resource to JB Charleston.”

Organizations pursue accreditation to demonstrate their use of best practice standards in the field of child and youth development. However, COA is not limited to Air Force programs. There are separate accreditation programs for private organizations, public agencies, Canadian organizations, military family readiness programs, child and youth development programs and international adoption programs.

“Receiving accreditation shows we provide the best quality care for the children of our service members ranked against youth programs across the board,” said Shannon Hebert, 628th FSS Air Base Youth Programs director. “Being recognized as a facility that has been accredited by COA demonstrates our level of success in areas such as accountability in resource management, our standardized best-practice thresholds for service and administration and our organizational capacity by creating a framework for ongoing quality improvement. Achieving accreditation was not easy. Preparation involved a lot of training, evaluating and streamlining processes, surveying customers for feedback on improvement and more. It took us over a year of hard work and dedication to achieve our goal of COA accreditation.”

Neurological research shows a child’s first few years play a key role in their brain development. Their early life experiences can deeply affect their future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. Optimizing the early years of children’s lives is one way to ensure their future success.

“Having a local and easily accessible program which has been accredited ensures families their children are receiving quality recreational programs year-round,” said Vivian Anderson, 628th FSS Air Base Youth Programs intern. “This time is a crucial time in a child’s development and the resources we’re able to provide help to enable their success. Ultimately, our goal is to meet the needs of the base and the families of JB Charleston.”

According to the COA website, Military Family Readiness Program Accreditation includes the accreditation of family readiness services provided to active duty, reserve and National Guard members and their dependents. The program was developed in collaboration with the Department of Defense and in consultation with military and other national human service experts and professionals.

“Military children typically go through countless moves, school changes and deployments so I feel Youth Programs provide them with stability,” said Anderson. “We give them a stable environment where they are able to enjoy the opportunities given, providing their parents or guardians the comfort of knowing their children are safe and cared for so they can focus on the mission.”